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Research Question: How does the popular children's television show iCarly use stereotypes?

Rationale - Why is this important?
Nickelodeon has undoubtedly produced a hit show with the award winning series iCarly and with viewers aging from the elementary school age to adults the humor and story plots are presumably entertaining for all ages. However, in order to keep audiences entertained iCarly has adopted the technique of using stereotypes as a form of entertainment. Due to the fact that iCarly has such a young but loyal fan base as well as the ability to gain new viewers regularly, the issue of how this popular children's show is representing other cultures, races, and ethnicities is extremely important, especially when children use television and the shows they watch as educational tools.

Making Connections - Ways to connect this topic to other scholarly works.

Although no scholarly research has been performed on the television show iCarly up until this point, the idea of exploring the use of stereotypes in television shows is not a new one. Numerous books as well as scholarly articles have been published discussing the relationships between children and stereotypes and provide useful and thoughtful information that helped with answering the question of; how does the popular children's television show iCarly use stereotypes?

Listed below are two examples of scholarly work that directly connect to iCarly and the use of stereotypes:

external image cortes_book1.gifExample 1: In the book, The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach about Diversity, written by Carlos Cortés, he says, “Although some may deny it, mediamakers recognize that consumers learn multicultrally from the media (Cortés, 2000, 154).” If a show’s viewer audience is largely children who are ignorant and impressionable it seems to be a bad idea for shows like iCarly to air episodes with negative stereotypes such as iGo to Japan or iNevel as long as children are using that show to learn about other cultures.

Example 2: The book, “Good Guys Don’t Wear Hats": Children’s Talk About the Media, written by Joseph Tobin. Tobin mentions a number of shows that portray stereotypes that have been popular over the past few decades for example the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. According to Tobin (2000), the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers changed the characters that were used in the original version when the show aired in the West. Previously the show featured Japanese actors and after the show’s move to the West the characters were now Caucasian, Asian American, and African American except for the villain which was still featured as Japanese. Tobin argues that the show promoted, “American’s-versus-evil-Orientals.” While the concepts for the show iCarly and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are obviously different the popularity of both shows among children makes both shows an area of concern when it comes to how stereotypes of other cultures are represented to children in America. external image 41GX5J4HBAL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


Questions - What questions are important to ask/research?
1.) Does iCarly use stereotypes in the show?
2.) Which stereotypes are depicted during the show? Are some stereotypes used more commonly than others?
3.) When stereotypes are used during the show are they done so in a positive or negative light?
4.) Can the way iCarly depicts other cultures, races, or ethnicities send the wrong message about people who are "different" from ourselves?

Gathering Data/Methodology - How did I go about obtaining my research?

Context Analysis. I watched episodes of iCarly from multiple seasons and documented the stereotypes being used in each episode and noted whether the stereotypes were portrayed in a positive or negative light. Also I examined and documented any patterns that could be seen in how the characters of iCarly and extras used stereotypes throughout the episodes. In addition, I carefully examined if the use of stereotypes became more or less prevalent as the seasons progressed.

The chart below is comprised of work from students in Professor Renee Hobbs' Mass Media & Children Spring 2011 Temple University class.
Episode Name
Description of Episode
Stereotype Portrayed
How the Stereotype was Depicted (positive vs. negative)
iNevel
They start by promoting the new show by handing out flyers in school. Spencer is making a sculpture out of butter, while Carly is trying to get a kid named Nevel to write a review of her show. They hold show and have a couple of guest make appearances. She goes to Nevels house for a interview, and finds out he is a kid and not an adult. Sam turns the heat up in the apartment and it starts to melt Spencer's work of art. Nevel tries hitting on Carly, who gets upset and shoves cake in his face. Nevel writes a negative review about Carly's show, so they invite Nevel over to confront him and end up telling his Nevels mom. The mom makes nevel go write a positive review.
African Americans
-shown beat boxing

Asians – shown as the geek because of being smart
Positive & Negative


Negative
iWant More Viewers
Carly is getting into trouble with a teacher for photo shopping her head on a hippopotamus. Carly asked Freddy to help her record a video. She holds auditions for a talent show. Freddy puts Carly's audition online and Carly and Sam get angry. On a message board they get positive feedback from peers in their school, and are asked to do more. They decide to start a new show called ICarly that is made by kids and is for kids. They have a kid named Simon squirt milk out of his eyes and have others do incredible acts. They find out they get 30,000 hits from their first website showing. They end up throwing a big party and everyone tells them how much they love their show
French –
Made fun of for their accent and mannerisms
Negative
iSaw Him First
Act I
-Carly and Sam fall for the same guy.
-Both agree to date him and be mature about it.
Act II
-They clearly cannot be mature about dating the same guy and have a dispute.
-They apologize to each other and agree that the first who kisses him first wins him.
Act III
-Carly and Sam come up w/ a series of strategies get the guy to kiss one of them first.
-They both fail once the Gus realizes how unruly and competitive they've become over him.
African Americans-
Shown as being aggressive, unruly, and crazy
Negative
iGo to Japan
Act I
-iCarly gets nominated for an iWeb Competition for Best in Comedy and they agree to go to the show in Japan to compete.
-They view their competitors and find that the Japanese team is stiff competition.
Act II
-Carly, Spencer and friends get "dropped" off in Japan and somehow make it to their hotel.
-Their Japanese competitors set them up so they'll lose.
Act III
-Mom/Spencer locates the kids and they go back to the iWeb awards but security tries to stop them from going in since they didn’t have their iWeb Awards information.
-But Freddy is able to broadcast them from the holding that they're in and they win the show.
French –
shown as rude and perpetuated hatred

Canada-
Is not exciting

Japanese-shown
Competition for American’s and sneaky

Asians-
Shown doing karate

Americans-
Shown as thinking anyone who is not white is below them.
Negative


Negative


Negative


Negative


Negative
My Results - What did I discover?
While performing my research it became quite clear very early on that iCarly did in fact use stereotypes and they were usually done so in a negative light. iCarly seldom used stereotypes to represents other cultures, races, or ethnicities in a positive way regardless of the fact that the stereotypes were also as a form of comedy for the viewer. In addition to noting how stereotypes were depicted, it became very evident that as the seasons progressed the number of episodes that featured the use of stereotypes went up. While at times the show's use of stereotypes are settle, they are still very present throughout every season of the Nickelodeon hit show, iCarly.

Key Findings- What was noteworthy that I found?
While all of my research proved to insightful, important things to remember is the rate at which iCarly is using stereotypes during their show is rising as well is the show's popularity, which means more children are going to be exposed to negatively portrayed stereotypes. Another important finding was that during two of the episodes I viewed, the laugh track was used in order to promote children laughing at others who were being portrayed as "different."

Sources
Cortés, C. E. (2000). The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach about Diversity. New York, New York: Teachers College Press.

Tobin, J. (2000). "Good Guys Don't Wear Hats": Children's Talk about the Media. NewYork, New York:Teachers College Press.

Schneider, D. (Producer), & Hoefer, S., Weissman, A., Kendall, D., Reinsel, R., Christiansen, R., & Goldstein, J. (Directors). (2008-2010). iCarly
[Televisionseries].Hollywood, California:Viacom International Inc.